Photos: Denver at Miami

Images from the series played between the Denver Pioneers and Miami RedHawks at Cady Arena in Oxford, Ohio on Jan. 24-25, 2020. All photos by Cathy Lachmann.

Denver pulls away late, sweeps MU

OXFORD, Ohio – It was another fast start for Miami and a lot less energy as the game progressed.

That seems to be the team’s recent modus operandi, as the RedHawks were held to six shots in the final two periods as No. 5 Denver completed a weekend sweep of MU, 5-2 at Cady Arena on Saturday.

Miami is winless in its last five (0-4-1) and is without a victory in its last seven on home ice (0-6-1), with its last ‘W’ in Oxford coming on Nov. 15 vs. Minnesota-Duluth.

The RedHawks are 2-9-2 at Cady Arena this season.

This wrapped up a four-game homestand for Miami, which earned 1 of a possible 12 league points, going 0-3-1 vs. Denver and North Dakota.

RECAP: Denver (17-4-5) scored at the 2:10 mark of the first period on the power play when an Ian Mitchell seeing-eye wrist shot from the right point snuck inside the far post.

Miami’s Derek Daschke (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

Miami (6-14-4) tied it with 9:35 left in the opening frame when Derek Daschke whipped a one-timer from the blue line that beat goalie Devin Cooley.

But with 36 seconds remaining in the first stanza, Liam Finlay fed a pass from behind the net to Kohen Olischefski, who was streaking from the wall toward the net, and he stuffed the one-time feed home to give the Pioneers the lead for good.

Denver extended its lead to two when Olischefski intercepted a clearing pass and quickly slid a pass to Emilio Pettersen in the slot, and he went settled the puck down and fired it top shelf to make it 3-1 with 6:23 left in the second period.

The RedHawks trimmed their deficit to one with 2:49 left in the middle frame when Monte Graham took a neutral-ice give-and-go feed from Christian Mohs, skated into the slot through three defenders and wristed one inside the far post.

But DU regained its two-goal lead 4:11 into the third period on a 2-on-1, with Jaakko Heikkinen shoveling home a Bobby Brink feed into the net from the side of the net.

The Pioneers sealed it when Mitchell tried to center a pass, but it deflected off a Miami skate in the slot and into the RedHawks’ net with 11:17 to play.

STATS: Daschke’s goal was his eighth of the season, which leads all NCHC defensemen. He is tied for third in all of Division I in tallies and is tied for No. 18 in college hockey in points per game (0.79).

Miami’s Monte Graham (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

He has scored four times in the last six games.

It was the fourth marker of 2019-20 for Graham.

Karch Bachman picked up one assist, as he moved into a tie for the team lead with 17.

— Mohs and Brian Hawkinson both earned their second helpers of the season. Matt Barry notched the other helper, his fourth point in seven games.

— There were only 48 faceoffs in the game, and Miami won 27. Graham finished 5-0 on draws.

— The power plays were 4-2 Denver and 7-3 Pioneers for the weekend. The RedHawks generated just three shots on their power plays in the series.

THOUGHTS: The last three games, Miami took early 2-0 leads only to squander them and end up with 1 of a possible 9 points.

On Saturday, the RedHawks again played well enough in the first period to have the lead but found themselves down one at the end of 20 minutes.

Despite being outshot, 10-3, Miami hung with Denver for the of the second period, which featured a nine-minute span without a stoppage early in that frame.

The teams traded goals in that frame and it was 3-2 Pioneers heading into the third period.

But Denver put the lockdown on Miami’s offense, holding the RedHawks to three shots again in the final 20 minutes.

So for the weekend, MU’s shots by period were 25-10-9. Just 44 shots on goal for the series, and 19 the final 40 minutes of both Friday and Saturday’s games.

That means the RedHawks averaged fewer than five shots a period in the second and third periods both nights.

Coach Chris Bergeron talked about the reasons for the drop-off in his postgame presser.

“I’m not sure,” Bergerson said. “Probably (Denver), a little bit, maybe we wore down, which we’ll have to look at, but those are nothing but excuses. If we can do it in the first period there’s no reason we can’t do it in the second and third. Again, I think as a team transitions from where we are right now to where we’re going to be, they’ll underand that it has to be over the course of three periods. Again, when you’re playing teams like we played the last two weekends we have zero room for mistakes and we have zero room to take our foot off the gas, and that’s what we’ve done. When you play big-time teams, then you get the results that we’ve gotten.”

— Not helping Miami’s cause was a 10-minute misconduct captain Gordie Green took early in the RedHawks’ first power play.

He was bumped into the Denver net and said the magic word to the officials as he skated away, earning him the penalty. Though he came out of the box early in the third period, Bergeron benched Green for the balance of the game.

— Bergeron broke up the CKG line, dropping Bachman to the second line with Barry and John Sladic. The response: Bachman was arguably the best forward on the team, firing five shots and notching an assist.

— It was the second game back from injury for Scott Corbett. He has taken a minor in each game, with the puck ending up in Miami’s net both times. He has talent, smarts and a physically ability that few forwards on this team possess. But if he can’t stay out of the box, he’s going to hurt this team more than help.

Ben Kraws was in net, and he stopped just 23 of 28 shots (.821), but his team did him no favors.

“Our margin for error is so small, and way too many pucks are ending up in our net again,” Bergeron said. “I thought that we had kind of got that out of our game, but that seems to be back in our game.”

Kraws should’ve stopped the first goal, a wrister from the right point.

The Miami defense lost Olischefski as he streaked toward the net from along the boards, as he scored the second Denver goal.

A bad defensive-zone outlet pass by Alec Capstick was intercepted and immediately fired home for goal against No. 3.

Miami got caught pinching on the fourth, and the fifth hit a RedHawks skater at the top of the crease and caromed in.

MU is ranked No. 55 out of 60 in Division I in goals allowed per game (3.62).

GRADES

FORWARDS: D+. Not much energy the second half of the game, few shots, only one goal and costly penalties. Forwards whose last name was not Bachman combined for seven shots on goal.

DEFENSEMEN: B. A pretty good effort by this group, which helped hold a lightning-fast Denver team to 28 shots. Daschke also contributed offensively with the goal, as this corps finished with eight of Miami’s 21 SOG.

GOALTENDING: C-. Kraws should’ve had the first goal for sure and he never seemed to completely settle in, as he juggled the puck a lot on saves. He made one outstanding save and the rest of the A-plus chances found the net.

LINEUP CHANGES: Only one among skaters: Chase Pletzke sat for the first time since October, and Mohs dressed in his place.

It’s unclear if Pletzke was injured on Friday or if it was a coach’s decision. Pletzke has 11 points in his last 11 games.

Kraws was in net for Larkin, as the duo split the weekend for the second straight series.

STANDINGS: Western Michigan won again, so Miami is now 13 points out of the final home slot for the first round of the NCHC Tournament.

With 10 games remaining, catching the Broncos seems extremely unlikely, although they play each other four times down the stretch.

The RedHawks remain in seventh place, two ahead of last-place Colorado College and three behind St. Cloud State, which holds the sixth spot.

Miami remained No. 42 in the PairWise following the loss.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Following the nine-minute stretch without a stoppage in the second period, Miami was no longer able to hang with Denver as it had the first 4½ periods of the weekend.

This was a tough, tough homestand, no doubt, and the RedHawks played well for much of, although they absolutely are not as talented as North Dakota or the Pioneers.

But the last 25 or so minutes of this game is worrisome. It was far from a blowout, but Miami just kind of went through the motions that final period-plus.

Home ice for the NCHCs was within striking distance prior to this weekend. Now it’s not.

But just because the RedHawks will have to win a road series to advance to the conference championship, they can’t revert after making so much progress the first 3½ months of this season.

Bergeron showed on Saturday that he’ll bench his star player if he feels it’s warranted, so there’s no reason do believe he won’t do the same with others who aren’t meeting expectations.

Miami can't hold 2-goal lead again

OXFORD, Ohio – Groundhog Day may not be for another week, but Miami has lived through it the past eight days.

On Friday – for the third straight game – the RedHawks jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period, but once again they were unable to secure the win, falling 3-2 to No. 5 Denver at Cady Arena.

The Pioneers (16-4-5) cut the deficit to one late in the first period, tied it in the second and scored the game winner early in the third.

Miami’s Bray Crowder (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

Kohen Olischefski netted the first two DU goals and Griffin Mendel notched the decisive tally.

Carter Johnson and Bray Crowder found the net for Miami (6-13-4), the first of the season for each and Crowder’s first career goal as a RedHawk.

MU is winless in four straight games and 2-7-1 in its last 10 while Denver extended its unbeaten streak to 10 (7-0-3).

RECAP: At the 5:20 mark of the first period, Miami’s Ben Lown centered a pass from along the boards to Chase Pletzke, whose point-blank shot was saved, but the rebound jumped over his stick and was rifled home top shelf by Johnson.

The RedHawks went up two when Matt Barry emerged from a scrum along the boards and found a wide-open Crowder with a cross-ice feed, and Crowder buried the one-timer into the open half of the net with nine minutes left in the opening frame.

Three minutes later, Denver’s Cole Guttman connected with Olischefski all alone at the top of the crease on the power play, and Olischefski shifted from the backhand to his forehand and poked the puck through RedHawks goalie Ryan Larkin on the power play.

The Pioneers tied it on the man advantage just 2:26 into the middle stanza as Guttman took a pass in the slot for a one-timer, and his shot was blocked but the loose puck trickled to Olischefski, who batted it just across the goal line inside the near post.

Mendel fired a shot from the top of the faceoff circle with 13:45 left in regulation, and it appeared Larkin had made the save cleanly, but it trickled through his pads and into the net to put Denver ahead.

Ryan Larkin (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

STATS: Larkin set the all-time career saves record for Miami. He broke the previous record of 2,975, held by David Burleigh (1999-2003).

Larkin needed nine stops to eclipse Burleigh’s mark and turned 30 shots aside on the night. He now has 2,997 for his career, three short of becoming the first goalie in RedHawks history to record 3,000 saves.

— Crowder’s goal, the first of his career, gives him five points in his last 12 games.

Johnson scored for the first time since March 2, 2019, and it was his first point since Nov. 23.

Pletzke, Lown, Barry and Phil Knies were all credited with assists for Miami.

Pletzke has 12 points in 13 games, including eight assists.

Barry earned his third point in six games since becoming eligible.

Lown and Knies both have three assists in five games, and Knies also has a goal in that span.

— Miami gave up two power plays and has surrendered six man-advantage goals in its last four games, as its penalty killing percentage dropped to 75.3 percent.

— The RedHawks have scored 12 times in the first period in their last six contests. Of their nine goals in their last three games, seven have come in the opening frame.

— Opponents have scored in 10 straight periods vs. Miami.

THOUGHTS: On this homestand, Miami has trailed for 18 of 185 minutes but is 0-1-2.

When leading 2-0 in the first period three straight games, especially on home ice, ultimately earning just one of a possible nine league points in difficult to swallow.

Closing out games has been an issue for RedHawks teams for a decade, and recently the issue has resurfaced for the 2019-20 version.

A shot that Larkin would’ve wanted back decided the game, but Miami’s offense did little after the first period and it just didn’t feel like the RedHawks were going to pull out a win, even if Larkin did stop that shot.

— The first period was very choppy, with Miami taking what seemed like 100 icings, and with over five minutes left in the stanza, a pane of glass behind the Zamboni end net shattered and had to be replaced, delaying the game by about 10 minutes.

The RedHawks escaped that frame with a one-goal lead but were stymied offensively the last 40 minutes, generating just 13 shots.

They had one power play the whole game, during which they barely spent any time in the offensive zone and struggled even to string together passes.

— Credit definitely goes to Denver, which appeared every bit as fast and talented as North Dakota, and the Pioneers did not get rattled when they fell behind.

DU pretty much shut down the CKG line (Casey, Karch and Gordie), which has been Miami’s main source of offense this season. The trio combined for nine of the RedHawks’ 23 shots, but all went minus-1 as they were on the ice for the third-period game winner.

And that line seemingly played every other shift all night.

— The first Pioneers goal kind of epitomizes the season. Two MU skaters chased one DU skater at the point, and since it was a power play, that means Denver had four skaters covered by two in the rest of the offensive zone.

That’s why Olischefski was so wide open so close to the net that Larkin could smell what he had for his pregame meal.

Mike Babcock said – although the phrase likely did not originate with him – that penalty killing takes no skill. That may not be completely true, but the point is that intelligence, guts and hard work can make any team competitive in that area.

Miami is down to 75.3 percent on the PK, the seventh-worst clip in all of Division I.

On Friday, the RedHawks lost by one and allowed two power play goals in three opportunities.

GRADES

FORWARDS: D+. Just not the crisp passing or overall intensity we saw from this corps vs. North Dakota, especially in the final 40 minutes. The CKG line was shut down and none of the other lines shined. Barry played a strong game and is now on the top power play, and Johnson, dressing for the third time in four games, had one of his better nights this season. This group took two penalties – one on John Sladic and the other by Scott Corbett – and the puck ended up the back of the Miami net both times.

Miami’s Rourke Russell (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

DEFENSEMEN: B-. Rourke Russell was the star among this group as he seemed to be all over Denver skaters the entire game, especially early. Crowder scored and has made huge strides in his positioning and staying out of the box. After a nightmarish first half in terms of injuries, Alec Mahalak finally looks 100 percent and is on the second power unit, and Grant Frederic appears much more confident than he has in the past and is playing as well as he has his entire career, exceling at getting the puck out of dangerous areas and winning boards battles.

GOALTENDING: C-. The elephant on the ice is that critical third goal, but Larkin made some excellent saves and he certainly isn’t the primary cause for this one going into the loss column. The first goal was scored when a DU player was left alone at the top of the crease, and the second was on a loose puck in heavy traffic that Denver batted in. It’s a shame that on a night he was honored for setting a school record that he would surrender such a high-profile goal, as he would’ve finished a B or B+ if not for that third one and possibly earned a win or a tie.

LINEUP CHANGES: Corbett returned from injury after missing the last four games, and defenseman Alec Capstick was back after being banged up and sitting the last two.

With that duo back, Christian Mohs and Andrew Sinard did not dress. Mohs had played in six straight, and it was the second time this season Sinard was not in the lineup.

Ryan Savage is still out with a lower body injury, missing his fourth consecutive contest.

— In net, Ben Kraws played last Saturday, but Larkin was back between the pipes for the fifth time in six games.

STANDINGS: Miami is now seventh in the NCHC, two points ahead of Colorado College and three behind St. Cloud State and Omaha, who are tied for fifth.

Western Michigan holds that all-important No. 4 seed and is 10 points ahead of the RedHawks.

— MU dropped to No. 42 in the PairWise, down one stop from last weekend.

FINAL THOUGHTS: It’s been extremely encouraging to see Miami compete with high-end Division I teams this season after being blown out so many times by the NCAA’s elite in recent years.

But the RedHawks are struggling to take the next step, which is earning critical points in league play.

The frustration of earning 1 of 9 in these last three home games that were toss-ups until the third period, all games in which Miami led, 2-0 in the first period, is augmented by Denver and Western Michigan’s recent hot streaks.

Denver is 7-0-3 in its last 10 and WMU is 3-0-1 in its last four, and as a result the RedHawks are now 10 points out of the final home spot in the NCHC Tournament.

With an at-large big to the NCAAs a near impossibility, the only realistic chance Miami has of snapping its national tournament drought is by winning the league tournament.

And that becomes a Sisyphean task when a team is buried in the bottom four and has to win a best-of-3 road series just to advance to the semifinals of the NCHC championship.

Not to take anything away from what this team has accomplished, relative to where it was in the winter months of 2018-19, especially with this four-game homestand coming against the Nos. 1 and 5 teams in Division I.

But for the RedHawks to have any hope of an NCAA berth, they need to figure out how to lead at the 60-minute mark and not just the 20.

Preview: Denver at Miami

Denver started the season on fire, cooled off a bit and now is playing at top form again, as the Pioneers come to Oxford riding a nine-game unbeaten streak (6-0-3).

DU has not lost since Dec. 6 and is tied for second in the NCHC in goals per game (3.25).

The Pioneers are coming off a weekend that saw them tie Omaha twice, as both teams scored just three times in the series.

A look at this weekend’s games:

WHO: No. 5 Denver Pioneers (15-4-5) at Miami RedHawks (6-12-4).

WHEN: Both nights – 7:05 p.m.

WHERE: Cady Arena (3,642), Oxford, Ohio.

ALL-TIME SERIES: Denver leads, 15-12-3.

DENVER RADIO: Both nights – KEPN-AM (1600), Denver, Colo.

MIAMI RADIO: Both nights – WMOH-AM (1450), Hamilton, Ohio; WKBV-FM (100.9), Richmond, Ind.

TV: None.

STREAM: Both nights – NCHC.tv.

NOTES: Most impressive about Denver is its scoring depth.

The Pioneers have 11 forwards with at least nine points, and four of its top six are sophomores with another being a freshman.

Seven DU players are NHL draftees, including its five best points producers.

Emilio Pettersen, a Calgary selection, leads the team in points with 22, having scored six goals and assisted on 16 others.

Bobby Brink – a freshman and Phildelphia draftee, has nine goals and 10 assists for 19 points, and Brett Stapley (Montréal) also has 19 points, with 15 coming on helpers.

Cole Guttman (Tampa Bay) leads the team in goals with 10, and he and Liam Finlay both have 16 points. Finlay is the only senior in the top nine in points for the Pioneers.

Other key contributors up from for Denver are Hank Crone (4-9-13), Tyler Ward (6-6-12), Kohen Olischefski (5-7-12), Jaakko Heikkinen (5-5-10), Tyson McLellan (5-5-10) and Ryan Barrow (4-5-9).

Aside from Ian Mitchell, a Chicago draft pick with four goals and 15 assists, Pioneers defensemen have not contributed much offensively.

Slava Demin (Vegas) is 2-7-9, and no other blueliner has more than six points. Griffin Mendel, Michael Davies, Justin Lee and Erich Fear have comprised the balance of the Denver defense this season.

The Pioneers have plenty of depth in net. Magnus Chrona has exceled in his freshman season, going 12-4-3 with a 2.19 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage with four shutouts.

Chrona has played in 19 games, and Devin Cooley has logged four, posting even better numbers with a line of 2-0-2, 1.21 GAA and .940 save percentage.

Michael Corson, the third goalie, stopped 16 shots en route to a shutout in his only appearance this season.

Denver is the sixth-best penalty killing team in Division I, having allowed just 10 power play goals in 90 chances for an 88.9 percent efficiency rate.

The Pioneers have scored 78 goals this season, but just 13 have come in the first period, as they have netted 34 in the second and 31 in the third.

By contrast, Miami’s best period has been the opening stanza, as the RedHawks have scored 28 goals in the opening 20 minutes.

The RedHawks jumped all over North Dakota last weekend, taking 2-0 leads early in both games.

Miami has also been exceptional on the power play recently, scoring on the man-advantage in five straight games and going 8-for-20 (40.0 percent) during that stretch.

So getting off to a quick start and thriving on the power play against a team that has been tough to score on with the man advantage are two keys to this series.

Despite the RedHawks’ recent struggles, they have fared well against Denver in recent years. Miami is 6-7-3 vs. the Pioneers since the start of 2015 despite DU being a top-10 team much of the past half decade.

Pros: Smith killing it in Vegas

Thanks to five January goals, Reilly Smith reached the 20-goal mark for the fourth time in his NHL career and is on pace to shatter her career high of 25 goals set with Florida in 2015-16.

Reilly Smith (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

Smith also recently recorded his 200th NHL goal.

In eight games this month, he has scored five times and picked up an assist.

Here are the highlights and stats of former Miamians currently playing pro hockey around the world:

NHL: Blake Coleman recorded his first career hat trick on Jan. 14 in a 7-4 loss to Toronto.

Coleman has scored five goals in his last four games and has 55 in four pro seasons.

— Jack Roslovic scored in back-to-back games on Jan. 14 and 17, giving him nine tallies on the season.

That ties his career high in goals. Still just 22, Roslovic has already logged 158 NHL games and has 57 points.

Andy Greene notched two points in a game for just the second time this season, going 1-1-2 in a 3-1 win over Washington.

AHL: Andy Miele rejoined the AHL after spending two seasons in Europe, and he picked up his fifth game-winning goal of the season and his 400th league point in the past week.

Andy Miele (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

Miele, playing with Tucson this season, went 2-1-3 in a 4-2 win over Colorado on Jan. 11, scoring the first and third goals.

He assisted on the Roadrunners’ lone goal on Jan. 17 for point No. 400.

Curtis McKenzie lead Chicago in goals with 13, and he has notched five points in his last five games with the Wolves.

Riley Barber is second on Laval in points with 24, and he reached the 200-point mark in the AHL with a 1-1-2 performance on Jan. 10.

— In his last six games with Stockton, Austin Czarnik has tallied multiple points in four, going 3-5-8 in that span.

He has 174 points in 173 AHL games and a plus-40 rating.

— San Diego’s Kiefer Sherwood has scored three goals in his last three games.

Sherwood teammate Chris Wideman leads all Gulls defensemen in goals (9), assists (13) and points (22).

Taylor Richart (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

ECHL: Utah’s Taylor Richart leads the league in power play goals by a defenseman with six, and he is tied for the ECHL lead with 10 goals overall.

Richart is also tied for No. 10 in the league in points by a blueliner (24).

— Cincinnati’s Justin Vaive is fourth on his team in scoring with 26 points, second in goals (15) and leads the Cyclones with a plus-17 rating.

— In his first pro season, Norfolk’s River Rymsha is second on his team in defenseman goals (5).

SPHL: Max Cook is playing in his sixth season in this league and has racked up 139 career points, and he seems to be getting better with age.

Cook, the team captain with nine goals and 19 assists for Fayetteville, is on pace to break his previous career highs in goals (11) and points (40), both set last season.

Cook had two goals and an assist vs. Macon on Jan. 17, giving him points in 14 of 15 games.

Tommy Wingels (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

Europe: Tommy Wingels is playing in his second season for Geneve Servette of the Swiss National League, and he is its leading scorer with 36 points in 37 games.

Wingels was injured last season and limited to 19 games.

Alex Wideman is exceling in his first season overseas.

Wideman has 31 points for Crimmitschau of the DEL-2, the second-best league in Germany.

He is tied for second on the team in points and is riding a five-game point streak, going 3-5-8 in that span.

Jeff Zatkoff, the only former Miami goalie still active in the pros, is 16-4 with a 2.00 goals-against average for Straubing of the top-tier league in Germany.

Zatkoff, in his second season in the DEL, has 40 wins and five shutouts in 67 games.

Statistics through Jan. 20, 2020.

NHL
SkaterTeamPos.GPGAPts.+ / –PIM
Reilly SmithLas VegasF51201939718
Blake ColemanNew JerseyF4819827232
Jack RoslovicWinnipegF499101908
Sean KuralyBostonF5041317-422
Andy GreeneNew JerseyD44178110
Alec MartinezLos AngelesD32156-410
Austin CzarnikCalgaryF821310
Riley BarberMontréal*F9000-12
AHL
SkaterTeamPos.GPGAPts.+ / –PIM
Andy MieleTucsonF37112233925
Curtis McKenzieChicagoF43131528-928
Riley BarberLavalF2891524-213
Carter CamperUticaF296182466
Chris WidemanSan DiegoD3391322-136
Austin CzarnikStocktonF1691019512
Cameron SchillingManitobaD4051419912
Kiefer SherwoodSan DiegoF241071746
Vincent LoVerdeHartfordD42412162012
Anthony LouisTexasF225101566
Louie BelpedioIowaD4131215253
Josh MelnickTexasF3245974
Grant HuttonBridgeportD35347-725
ECHL
SkaterTeamPos.GPGAPts.+ / –PIM
Justin VaiveCincinnatiF401511261776
Taylor RichartUtahD40101424816
River RymshaNorfolkD335510-108
Scott DornbrockCincinnatiD18066715
Anthony LouisCharlotte*F8101-32
SPHL
SkaterTeamPos.GPGAPts.+ / –PIM
Max CookFayettevilleF2691928417
Europe
SkaterTeamPos.GPGAPts.+ / –PIM
Tommy WingelsGenevaF37142236037
Alex WidemanCrimmitschauF2713183138
Matthew CaitoKooKooD41525301028
Pat CannoneSchwennigenF3891928-1410
Trevor HamiltonGrazD3539121018
Will WeberFischtownD20213122
Colin SullivanChamonix-MorzineD31101-640
GoalieTeamGPW-LGAASv %SHO
Jeff ZatkoffStraubing2216-42.000.9001

* — no longer with team

N. Dakota tops Miami on late goal

OXFORD, Ohio – Scoringwise, Saturday’s game bore a striking resemblance to Friday.

Miami took an early 2-0 lead, was ahead by one after the first period, No. 1 North Dakota eventually tied it and scored the go-ahead goal in the closing moments of the final frame.

Unfortunately for the RedHawks, unlike Friday when the teams ultimately skated to a tie as the Fighting Hawks’ last-minute tally was waved off, UND’s marker with 1:04 remaining in regulation of the series finale stood as the RedHawks fell, 5-3 at Cady Arena.

North Dakota (18-2-3) added an empty netter to clinch the win and take five of a possible six points from Miami (6-12-4) on the weekend.

Miami’s Derek Daschke (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

RECAP: The RedHawks jumped out early on a power play goal by Derek Daschke, which he scored on the power play on a wrister from the top of the left faceoff circle off a feed from Casey Gilling.

Miami capitalized on another man-advantage exactly two minutes later, as Gilling’s initial shot from the right faceoff dot was denied, and after his follow-up shot was also stopped, Phil Knies swept home the loose puck to make it 2-0.

Just 43 seconds later, the Fighting Hawks got on the board, as Harrison Blaisdell saw his 3-on-2 shot turned aside by RedHawks goalie Ben Kraws but Judd Caulfield eventually jammed it in during a scramble at the top of the crease.

Twenty seconds into the second period, UND’s Shane Pinto – left all alone in the slot – ripped a one-timer past Kraws on the stick side off a feed from Jordan Kawaguchi to tie it at two.

Miami regained the lead on its third power play goal of night on a tic-tac-toe pasasing play, with Daschke at the point feeding Gordie Green down low and Green sending one through the crease to Karch Bachman for the one-timer to make it 3-2 with 50 seconds left in the middle stanza.

But the Fighting Hawks would run off the final three tallies.

They tied it at the 4:24 mark of the third period when Kawaguchi skated into the offensive zone along the boards, cut across to the slot uncontested and found twine with a wrister.

Cole Smith put North Dakota ahead on a backdoor cut with 64 seconds to play when Matt Kiersted sent a pass through traffic to Smith at the side of net, and Smith shoveled it in to make it 4-3.

Westin Michaud tacked on the empty netted with 27 seconds left.

STATS: Daschke, Green and Gilling all finished with two points, with Daschke going 1-1-2 and the latter two picking up a pair of assists.

Gilling ended the weekend with six points, and Daschke scored for the third time in four games, and it was his fifth multi-point game of the season.

Green extended his points streak to seven games and has points in 13 of his last 14 games.

He now has 106 points for his career, moving him into a tie with Randy Robitaille and Greg Dornbach for 47th on the Miami all-time leaderboard.

Miami’s Phil Knies (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

— Knies snapped a 13-game goal drought and picked up his third point in four games, Bachman found the net for the eighth time and has points in 10 of 11 contests.

— Miami scored three power play goals in a home game for the first time since Oct. 28, 2017 vs. Connecticut.

— Opponents have preferred the third period, as they have scored 27 times in that stanza in 2019-20, including 17 goals in the MU’s last 11 games.

— The RedHawks scored five first-period goals this weekend and have 10 in their last five games. The opening stanza has been their best in terms of scoring, as they have 28 tallies in that frame vs. 19 in the second and 20 in the third.

THOUGHTS: Miami, which almost lost on a late goal on Friday and did lose that way on Saturday, was out of gas by the end of this one.

Green and Gilling practically needed oxygen masks on the bench as they logged time on each penalty kill, and – of course – all of the power plays.

And there was a lot of special teams play this weekend.

The decisive goal was all too predictable, as Miami was on fumes the final few minutes of regulation, and Kraws was a key reason the score remained tied as long as it did.

North Dakota, like buzzards circling a carcass, swarmed the offensive zone the final couple of minutes, with an exhausted RedHawks corps unable to generate any offense of their own or even clear the zone, before the inevitable happened.

The hockey gods were fair in this one. The better team, the one with more skill, earned the win, but the team with less talent never gave up and salvaged a tie while making the better team earn every one of its five points.

— The power play has made a definite improvement, not just because the usual suspects have converted recently.

It’s not exactly newsworthy that Green-Bachman-Gilling-Daschke are man-advantage studs, but others are starting to chip in as well.

John Sladic scored the tying goal on Friday, Knies picked up a marker in this one, Chase Pletzke has been factor on 5-on-4s as well.

Defensemen Rourke Russell (0-2-2 on the weekend) and Bray Crowder are also thriving on power play time.

And defying any kind of statistical logic is Matt Barry, who was on the ice for all three Miami PPGs but somehow did not pick up a point.

— Speaking of statistical anomalies, Kraws’ last start was Nov. 30 vs. Connecticut, when he stopped 31 of 35 shots. Saturday? Sam exact line: Thirty-one saves, four goals against.

But Kraws was solid in this one. He juggled some pucks early, which is understandable since he had not seen live action in nearly two months, but settled down and made some huge saves on high-percentage shots.

— The RedHawks seemed to get away from their quest for the perfect pass and shot, and they were better for it, as they turned the puck over too much and ended up with a season-low 16 shots on Friday.

— Miami went 30-34 on faceoffs, which was better than Friday but still not great, as North Dakota seemed to win a higher percentage in its offensive zone, leading to sustained, high-pressure possessions.

— Miami led for 44:38 on this series and trailed for 2:38 (credit UND writer Brad Schlossman for this stat, which VFTG confirmed) but finished the weekend 0-1-1.

— Would’ve liked to have seen Miami’s penalty kill tighten up on the left wing after Pinto scored from the inside of the faceoff circle, but UND still had multiple Grade-A chances on subsequent power plays after skaters were left wide open in that area.

GRADES

FORWARDS: C+. The Gilling-Bachman-Green trio accounted for five points, but Knies was the only other forward to pick up a point. Carter Johnson, a healthy scratch on Friday, played with a ton of energy and generated three shots, the second-most of any forward. Bachman of course led the team with five. Monte Graham, normally a faceoff stud, won 2 of 11 draws and was kicked out of the circle numerous times this weekend.

DEFENSEMEN: B-. This corps was OK defensively, and Daschke and Russell accounted for three points. Alec Mahalak, recovering from an upper body injury, played arguably his best game of the season, and his deke and drive to the net drew a penalty that eventually led to a Miami goal. Grant Frederic was very solid in his own end and had one of his better nights of 2019-20.

Miami’s Ben Kraws (photo by Cathy Lachmann/VFTG).

GOALTENDING: B. Kraws faced a ton of A-plus chances and stopped a few of those, showing off his ability to go post-to-post to shut down 2-on-1 chances. We mentioned above he appeared a little nervous early but settled down to play a very good game.

LINEUP CHANGES: Besides Kraws occupying the net for the first time in nearly two months – replacing Ryan Larkin – Johnson was the only other player to skate on Saturday who was not in the lineup for the opener.

Johnson replaced Noah Jordan.

STANDINGS: With St. Cloud State’s win over Duluth, giving the Huskies 15 points, Miami dropped into a tie for sixth place with Omaha, as both have 12 points.

Colorado College is in eighth with 10 points. Western Michigan holds the No. 4 position with 19 points.

Miami fell one spot to No. 42 in the PairWise.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Considering Miami had opportunities to win both nights, one point on the weekend is not optimal.

But with a first-year coach heading a totally inherited roster, this season is about improving, and the RedHawks led the No. 1 team in Division one for a good portion of the weekend and rarely trailed.

This team continues to battle against more talented opponents and have success.

Miami may have earned only one of a possible six points vs. North Dakota, but to hang with the top team in Division I all weekend shows that after just a half season under Bergeron, the RedHawks are already making progress.